Wednesday, October 29, 2014

New Band To Burn One To: Les Lekin

In dark desolate industrial backgrounds, where single flickering lights bait their last breaths amongst the choking encroachment of depression and anger, bands like Les Lekin are born, full of brutal destruction and raw essential power.

With heavy doom psych riffs encasing your ears, the Austrian three-piece (Peter G –guitar, Stefan W – bass, Kerstin W – drums) are at times darkly bleak with undertones of more darkness, and at other times truly inspiring heavy riffing like a flame in the darkness of a tortured nightmare. Influences are a plenty for these post-rock-sludge psychedelics with the likes of Pelican, 5ive, and Red Sparrows coming to the forefront. It’s a scene that is a lot more challenging to conquer than many, and the down-turned tone of the guitars, and the lack of vocals make for limited range, but where Les Lekin carve their own path is through their psychedelic nuances, shown heavily in their mind bending track ‘Useless’ taken from their All Black Rainbow Moon record. It’s a trippy psych sound which doesn’t deviate from the concrete structure of the songs, but rather builds to an other-worldly climax, descending into imploding riffs and heavy as hell breakdowns. There are stoner elements revealed in the relentless ten minute ‘Allblack’ before the 13-minute ‘Loom’ completely shreds your body to dusty apocalyptic ashes.

With the winter nights slowly encompassing our bodies, the realities of the darkness and alienation of death and destruction that lie on the other side of the candle flame, outside of the warm homely fire and the safety of being indoors, all the things we choose to protect ourselves from are brought to light with stark devastating beauty by Les Lekin, a harsh beauty that you can’t hide away from, a one that encompasses your soul. Give All Black Rainbow Moon many a spin, uncover it’s thick layered body, immerse yourself, and see what type of person you come out as through the other side.

Monday, October 27, 2014

LP Review: 'The Return of the Bearded Brethren' by Grifter

We might be a little late to the game with this one, but there was no way we could let this album slip by without a few words. Heavy Planet loves Grifter! It’s easy to see why really; strip everything down to the basics, and what you have is three guys playing the grooviest stoner rock that you can’t stop getting down and dirty to, and they’ve been doing it since their debut EP High Unholy Mighty Rollin’ back in ’08, followed by the even more exceptional The Simplicity of the Riff is Key record two years later. Grifter are consistent in their heavy groovy stonerness, and on their second full-length, they excel!

Songs about women, rocking and drinking (‘Black Gold’ an ode to Guinness) are the spinal cord for Grifter’s blueprint, grooving their way through ten tracks of good-time rock’n’roll, with a combination of face-busting riffs and mellowed out vocal licks. You can’t argue against the band’s songwriting ability, they’re not just about being the loudest and hardest they can be, but in tracks such as ‘Bow Down To The Monkey’ or the ridiculously infectious ‘It’s Not Me It’s You’  you can see the band’s hard-working scales and layered instrumentation, it’s never overcomplicated, and it’s the bare-boned rawness of their songs and grooves that they nail perfectly. 

The closing addition of Sabbath’s ‘Fairies Wear Boots’ sums up the album’s echoing similarities with the band playing a gig in their local town, everyone full of beer, jumping around the room, singing along in unison, having one massive night of loud, groovy, good-time rock, where nothing matters but the music, the place you’re in with your fellow man, your brethren, hugs, fist pumps, head-bangs, living all for the moment, being united..... and that’s why we love Grifter!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sunday Smoke: Leather Lung - "Reap What You Sow"

Some things need to be experienced without distraction. Isn't that what Kyuss instructed? If you're gonna smoke yourself stupid, the perfect sidecar is the grimiest, steadiest stoner-sludge within arm's reach. But more important is to isolate the experience with decent headphones. After all, do you really want your mom coming downstairs, interrupting your session to complain about that racket?

Speaking of your mom, she looks great on the cover of Leather Lung's Reap What You Sow. Four New Englanders, five smokey cruisers, and twenty-seven minutes are all you need to make today lazy, hazy, and stickier than your stepdad's backseat. And it's okay if you don't wanna share.

A familiar stoner fuzz permeates the album, immediately evident on Burning Out. The opener rips with riffs and heavy hits, repeatedly parting the basement haze with fuzz licks that lift us into another atmosphere. Mike's vocal is little else but shards and splinters, spit hot and angry. But these rueful reflections can hardly pull you away from a Sunday sit down with your shadiest pals. The quick follow-up Green Bitch is stoner-punk sneer with a staggering gait, set off by Ben's potholed path. As we struggle for balance, Zach's blistering licks steady our hand. But these lungs are filling up and these eyes have grown heavy, bro.

An all-out embrace of loser-dom follows on the album's back end. Stone by Stone bruises behind heady buzz and riffs accumulate upon themselves. In short, the thickness is gonna coat your throat before lulling you with a cool, indian-circle sense of comfort. Don't get too cozy, though... "Third eye opens, two eyes close"? We're smoked silly and burnt into oblivion. Jesse's bass plucks introduce Moth to the Flame, offering a complete vocal tandem that juxtaposes itself. As a sandstorm develops, Leather Lung lift the tempo and swallow everything in sight. The slow to a sludgy stumble is as sticky as it is heavy. The transition to the closing Repack/Relight is swampy and strangely cathartic, snagging spacey elements to aggravate the swell. Screeches offer a bit of unease, but a slow strip of excess counters buzz-backed thumps as we ultimately, finally fall to a knee.

Leather Lung see no need to justify the fog. The bake is why you wake, so fuck the nickel and dime fa├žade. Start to finish, Reap What You Sow sifts for stems and seeds, enveloping listeners with a viscous hybrid of low-slung, low-freuqency Acapulco Gold. Heshers generally have no shortage of free time. But rarely do they make such good use of it as with these five nugs.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

LP Review: All Them Witches - Lightning At The Door

Much is said about the sophomore curse: when a band that had created such a great debut that they cannot hope to follow up on the second offering. All Them Witches either never got the memo or just don’t give a goddamn. Lightning at the Door is an absolute triumph from the Nashville band, blending spacey, stoned jamming with thundering sonic catastrophe. In a genre often bogged down with the re-hashed riffs from some forgotten resin tainted memory, All Them Witches are smart, determined and as pure as southern moonshine.

“Funereal for a Drunken Bird” lingers in the abyss for the first two minutes; flickering, dancing and, most importantly, burning into a fantastic introductory trip into their slow and brilliant world. When it finally blows out, the devilish boogie of "When God Comes Back” comes crushing into the horizon. Plodding waves of riffs pounce over the rhythmic southern drawl vocals. Blink and you could mistake the whole deal for some unheard Kings of Leon attempt at metal.

The weirdness continues on “Swallowed by the Sea” which begins like a lost Fleet Foxes song but turns into a dark, pillaging snake of a jam. Showing how Them Witches can turn off one road and start speeding down another with the change of a note. Recorded entirely live in the same room, Lightning is a look into what music may have been before big business and technology collaborated to kill the rock record; raw, ethereal and down right brilliant.

"Charles William” is a southern rock romp reminiscent of the Brought Lows bar room smokiness and the rebel yell dagger of Lynyrd Skynyrd. When you hear the words “I’m gonna raise the dead” slither out over the lingering melody, it’s hard not to believe these boys have already gone and done that.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

LP review: Reburn by Mother Corona

Imagine if you will Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins) leading a Josh Homme inspired rhythm section and you get close to the awesomeness of this band, as Londoners Mother Corona release their second record Reburn through the WhenPlanets Collide label; and it’s an absolute screamer!
   From the outset, Reburn is brimming with heavy fuzz orientated riffage, melting layers and layers of heavy riffs atop of one another, driving the songs along as far as you think they’re going to go, before smacking you again with one more round. ‘Cut The Rope’, ‘Black Acid Morning’, ‘Dead Space’, ‘Preacher’...hell, it’s not possible to pick a standout from the mammoth 15 tracks on offer here. While the psychedelic tendencies explored on their debut Out of the Dust have mostly disappeared, leading the band directly down the stoner path, they have tightened immensely as musicians, with drummer/vocalist Dave O becomming much more of a presence behind the kit, as well as the mic, and the rhythms of Lee Cressey and Rob Glen have become so powerful and driving, that they basically mocking every other band with their prowess.
   Mother Corona have gone from a band to watch out for, to THE band to try and catch!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sunday Sludge: Grizzly - "Rapturous Decay"

For all the early-morning fog, sweet-spiced coffees, and open-mouthed gazes toward changing colors, there's also plenty I never trusted about the autumn shift. Something seems underhanded and sinister to the point of my guard lifting. And to be fair, that's why it's so great. But don't you get tired of everyone saying they love fall?

Two years ago, we introduced ourselves to Budapest's sludge-n'-rollers Grizzly, an overtly violent quintet of pissed-off stoners committed to unleashing hot, gnarling malevolence on unsuspecting lemmings. Their six-track Fear My Wrath stayed on my radar through year's end, cemented as one of the year's best, as I saw it.

With their follow-up, the band adopt autumn's roundabout, nuanced administration of subversion. Rapturous Decay offers a rollicking half-dozen meaty slabs of hate, masked in groove and caked with steaming shit. Grizzly have discovered an element of patience, making their toxic blend of Southern stoner-sludge all the more dangerous. Monolith opens markedly more subdued than The Cultist, rolling smoothly until Grizzly find their fangs. The track is coated and self-assured, so perhaps the mere threat of lurking evil is even more effective than a blade in your nostril. Slick resin, buoyant rhythms... The boys are back.

Pass Those Pills follows with effective pregnant pauses that heighten anxiety. This cool roll in the hay dizzies as it soaks, and the head-shaking search for answers proves this band is maturing. Bluesy lament and self-realization were never expected. Ride Along is more upbeat, not giving two shits about spilling. The trademark middle finger is back, kept greasy via Knapp's grimy pipes. They're still Grizzly; nothing ever shines for long.

Serving as a harbinger of evil, The Silver Key is fucking fed up. This chugger rolls slow and gathers momentum, churning and flattening with unhinged riffs. What follows on the closing tandem, however, pairs nine minutes of beer-swiggin' bar blues and a potent wall-to-wall stagger. Rapturous Decay Pt 1 is all-inclusive, no less dynamic given the muted aggression. Sitting dockside with a harmonica, an empty bottle, and more than a few rough thoughts, we're hardly prepared for what's hovering and taking shape above. Part 2's stoner foundation is spiked with roaring rants, promising Grizzly's lack of regard for consequence. Calm nods and long breaths briefly deceive us until the shakes return. Tension grows, coils tighten... These guys are gonna snap. One slam after another and we're spent.

Grizzly's swampy stoner roots remain intact, and the intentions still ice the spine. So the band found their own fog in the form of cool plucks to ease the burn. We're given time to be frightened, questioning all around us. We get stuck in the mud, we scratch for branches, and we briefly believe we've found a foothold for a fighting chance. Nope. Turns out the murderous Hungarians are still pissed. And hungry. And breathing on your neck.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

New Band To Burn One To: Bagual

After listening to so many imitators, near misses, and heard-it-all-beforers, finally, FINALLY, this year has delivered some stoner worthy of the name. Hitting the desert scene with a mighty fresh slab of heavy fuzzy riffs comes Santiago’s finest: Bagual.

Having only formed in 2012, the Chileans have recently released their stomping debut record I: Viento Sur, layered with thick, heavy hooks of pure stoner heaven, all the while under pinned by a slight metal back drop.

Whether it’s the headbanging-dancability of a track such as ‘Matta’ or the frenetically pummelling riffs of opener ‘El ojo de Dios’, there is something on here for every Kyuss/Orange Goblin die hard out there, who isn’t afraid to face (perhaps) foreign vocals, and simply get lost in the power of the riffs.

Bagual are going to be a band to keep an eye out for in the near future, and a continued torch bearer for the ever increasingly impressive stoner scene emanating from South America.

(As a side note, just look at that artwork, It’s a four-eyed bull soaring over mountain tops, like a mythical god about to pound your face: an apt representation of Bagual it must be said)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sunday Sludge: Lotus Ash - "The Word of God"

I remember when Audioslave formed. I fucking loved Soundgarden as a teen, and Rage Against The Machine was extreme for the mainstream, so I was hooked. But you take Chris Cornell minus Kim Thayil's licks (and Matt's drums, let's be serious) and RATM minus Zach's spits, and who gives a shit? Audioslave was so bland I could barely stomach the term "supergroup," just a couple o' radio-friendly singles and foam filler for the uninitiated.

Heavy Planet alums Maidens and Northless may not boast such an inflated pedigree, but their members aren't foreign to sculpting dynamic post-sludge sounds leaning toward the year's best. Rarely does the sum outperform the parts, but today's feature is an exercise highlighting growth, and egos won't stiffen the sound this time. Lotus Ash's The Word of God is five walled progressions of post-sludge perfection saturated in a groove that's both infectious and proficient.

Redemption's epic rush of sound is immediate, revealing waves and layers that immerse the listener and nail down the mood. The isolation is countered by a strange sense of belonging (compliments of vocal drapery) and elements steadily meld and forge a staggering post-sludge statement. Heavy as this opener is, though, we also catch glimpses of vulnerability. The pensive progressions give way to hopeful elevation, challenging any of contemporary sludge's pedestrian, downtrodden stomp.

The buzzing transition into Soul of Man is near-apocalyptic, forcing us into a corner with the juxtaposition of cascading drumwork, murky rhythms, and majestic vocals. The ambition on display could kill lesser acts, but Lotus Ash's stone wall is cold, desolate, painful, and ultimately extraordinary. The buzz grows abrasive on the slow-rolling collapse and rise of the title track. The song expands upon itself and never relents as incredible post-metal beacons emerge to snatch marquee billing. Evolving, churning, swelling... But never willing to abandon a core of slow-simmered sludge. Awesome.

And about that sludge, Open Arms is the album's best example of caked aggression. Violent and antagonistic with a groove that won't be neglected, the grind is peppered with doubt. Drums get primitive, guitars screech, and the slugs find no pause. It's almost a harbinger for Scourge's devastation, aiming to dominate without prejudice. Metered and measured perfectly, this closer aims and stings with heavy swells, ignoring convention and painting a faint haunt with strange and calculated evolution.

Singing praises for The Word of God should hardly detract from what Maidens and Northless have given us, so perhaps I shouldn't make the comparisons. But Lotus Ash have abruptly thrust themselves into the discussions of 2014's best sounds. These five tracks are fluid and bulky, despondent yet at times glazed with hope. Throughout though, this record is very, very smart. It's not so easy to remain ignorant, and this release assures that ignorance won't be comfortable, if it's even permitted at all. You might believe you're losing yourself for thirty-two minutes. What you're really losing is an interest in shitty music. This is how it's done.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

LP review: Caged In Flesh by Horsehunter

Dark, brooding doom with thick lashings of stoner riffs, and nods towards psychedelic tendencies, is not something you might not necessarily associate with a young blooded Australian band, however, Horsehunter’s debut record Caged In Flesh is nothing short of an evil, dark, disembowelling masterpiece.
   The four tracks on offer here showcase exactly what the band are all about. Opening 16 minute track ‘Stoned To Death’ is a layered stoner-doom epic with driving riffs speeding up the gutting vocals, all topped off with guitar solos driving you towards a drug induced comatose state of doom heaven (or should that be hell?). The band offer a lot more than just simple heavy waves of doom that becomes stale, instead it’s their combination of the different genres that keeps their sound fresh and able to surprise, as the title track showcases, starting with chugging stoner riffs, fading into elongated feedback and deathly gloom, before returning back to their doom ending, all in one song!
   Having previously scrapped the album twice over before settling on the sound they wanted, Caged In Flesh has been worth the effort and time they have put into it. Whether it is stoner riffs, psychedelic journeys, or gritty out and out doom you’re after, there is something on this record that will excite you. Horsehunter are a band to keep an eye on.